What did Phillip like the feel of?

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liesljohnson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a good question to consider, since knowing what Phillip likes the feel of after he goes blind could reveal quite a lot about his character. But the answer might depend on which chapter you're focusing on, exactly.

For example, if you look in Chapter 1, long before Phillip loses his sight, you'll see his recollections of his earlier childhood back in Virginia. He says:

"I remembered the summers with lightning bugs and honeysuckle smells; the cold winters when the fields would be all brown and would crackle under my feet."

So, one possible answer is that Phillip likes the feel of the crunchy, crackling brown fields under his feet.

Another answer shows up Chapter 3, when he's recovering from his head injury and trying to rest. The cat, whom they call Stew Cat, has cuddled up into a warm ball next to Phillip's feet, and of course Phillip finds this very comforting.

In Chapter 7, Phillip sits in the shade, running sand through his fingers--probably enjoying the feel of the grains and their motion against his skin.

Stew Cat comforts Phillip again in Chapter 8, when he's afraid of being alone; the feel of his fur against Phillip's arms and cheek are intensely therapeutic.

But the instance that most reveals Phillip's character is probably found in Chapter 10. We find out that Phillip loves the feel (and sound) of the rain:

"I liked the rain because it was something I could hear and feel; not something I must see. It peppered in bursts against the front roof, and I could hear the drips as it leaked through. The squall wind was in the tops of the palms and I could imagine how they looked in the night sky, thrashing against each other high over our little cay."

This shows us that Phillip finds comfort in the natural world, particularly in the feel of the rain and the sounds it makes. In fact, the feel and sound of the rain seem to be helping Phillip mentally visualize things, which shows that he's trying to adapt to his blindness and to continue living and surviving in spite of it, and in spite of being stranded. We can contrast this love of the rain with Phillip's apparent hatred of and frustration with the palm fronds, which are unfamiliar to him and difficult to work with. That counterexample helps show how Phillip takes the most comfort from familiarity.